Solid Waste Management has been one of the neglected areas of urban India. It is estimated that out of one billion people living in the country about 300 million reside in urban areas. Furthermore, the total solid waste generated was recorded to be around 38 million tonnes in 2016. The collection and disposal of municipal solid waste is one of the pressing problems of city life, which has assumed great importance in the recent past. Further, with the growing urbanization and industrialization, problems are becoming acute and it calls for immediate and concerted action.
Figure 1: India Municipal Waste Generation, By Urban States, 2015
Source: Central Pollution Control Board,2015
Figure 2: India Sewage Waste Generation in Percentage, By State, 2016
Source: Central Pollution Control Board,2016
Introduction of Integrated Solid Waste Management System (ISWM) in 2015, across all the cities of India has been a major footstep towards a clean India. ISWM ranks the waste management operations according to their environmental, economic and energy impacts. The steps followed for the ranking of waste are: source reduction or waste prevention, which includes reuse, is considered the best approach (tier 1); followed by recycling (tier 2); and composting of organic matter of waste, resulting in recovery of material (tier 3). The components of waste that cannot be prevented or recycled can be processed for energy recovery (tier 4). Tier 5 is disposal of waste in sanitary landfill, which is the least preferred option.
For instance, if the land for composting organic material is close to residential area, bio methanation maybe a preferred choice despite the lower ranking and higher cost as compared to the composting in the ISWM hierarchy. Despite the constraints such as lack of efficient waste management policy in the states, Chennai and Gujrat have introduced zero waste generation goal. Additionally, EXNORA- a local non-governmental organization (NGO) based on a ‘zero waste management scheme’ has been driving the environmentalist movement for sustainable urban development in Chennai. Further, Swacch Bharat Abhiyaan commissioned by Prime minister of India would propel the demand for effective waste management schemes in urban India.